The things you REALLY need in your hospital bag

I am so excited to finally share what I packed in my hospital bag with you guys!

I had my babies four years apart- one by c-section (during back during those “precendented times”) and one via VBAC this past summer (during a pandemic). I’ll tell you- as a first time mom I packed everything along with the kitchen + bathroom sink. But that is because I didn’t know what to expect! 

Second time around I packed a lot again- but this was because I wasn’t sure if I was going to have a c-section or a successful VBAC- which also meant the difference between a 24 hour stay and a 3 day stay. I wanted to be prepared no matter what. I ended up having a VBAC (you can read my birth story here). Due to COVID my stay was one 24 hours- so very quick compared to 3 days with my section. 

I overpacked- twice- so now you don’t have to! Because I realize after having my second most of what you pack becomes useless and a lot of the things you don’t think to pack are would have been pretty clutch after giving birth! 

This post will hopefully help you figure out what to pack, what to leave home and what you may not have thought to add to your bag! 

I’ve broken it down into categories so you won’t forget certain things for you, your partner and baby. I’ve included some tips + insights here and then the full list when you scroll down! You can print the list too and check off as you pack.

Hospital bag for moms

THE ESSENTIALS FOR MOM [the stuff everyone should pack- no matter how you give birth!]

A few things that will make your stay a little more comfortable: 

*A 10 foot phone charger. Trust me- this is a must. A lot of times outlets in hospital rooms are far away from the beds. It’s the #1 thing I always suggest to first time moms! 

*Tumbler for water. This was great to have so I could keep my water cold and not have to refill the tiny hospital cups over and over! Bonus which I didn’t think of then, but a Crystal Light packet would have been great to have too! 

*A big fluffy towel for that first shower after giving birth and flip flops for the shower. I know the towel seems unnecessary since the hospital has them but just having this little comfort of home made me feel good! 

*Hair ties/clips/scrunchies. Bring a few for back up! I also packed dry shampoo. Just made life easier when I decided I didn’t want to wash my hair in the hospital. 

*A comfy outfit (or 2, depending on your stay length). The first time I gave birth and I had my section I didn’t change for two days. I just felt so crummy. But the second time I changed that next morning and I felt great. Honestly this could be a great pair of PJs or just a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt. Here is the sweatshirt I brought with me– LOVE it and still wear it. 

*A going home outfit. When I gave birth in the summer I brought a dress which was so easy to just throw on! When I gave birth in the winter I did a pair of maternity leggings and a sweatshirt. Here is the thing I think no one talks about- you still look preggo when you leave the hospital. So keep that in mind! 

A few more tips for mom… 

In terms of postpartum care products- I didn’t pack any of those! The hospital not only provides you with everything you need, they also send you home with a BUNCH of stuff! I have another post here that share my at-home postpartum essentials that you can use once you are discharged. 

If you are having a c-section one thing I would suggest is Depends or Always adult diapers. I wore these after my c-section and I found them to be more comfortable than the mesh underwear in the hospital because they went over my incision. I packed a box of 12 in my hospital bag.

When I had my VBAC I also used these! I found them to be VERY comfortable vs. a huge pad! But instead of wearing them in the hospital I began to wear them about 5 days after I gave birth (once the bleeding slowed down a bit).  

hospital bag, first time moms what to pack

THE ESSENTIALS FOR BABY

When it comes to your baby the hospital pretty much provides everything! Diapers, wipes, formula-even a swaddle and a onesie. But of course, I wanted to bring my own cute baby stuff! Here is what I suggest… 

*Baby swaddles. The hospital swaddle is usually stiff, but I love to use stretchy swaddles. My favorite are from Posh Peanut– they are also very easy to use and to swaddle with, especially for first time moms. 

*Baby blanket. I love this super soft one and we still use it everyday. It’s so soft and a gorgeous backdrop for photos too! Don’t worry about your hospital bag being too stuff because of this- when you leave it will keep baby warm in the car seat and you’ll free up some space!

*Photo props. Maybe you want to take your baby’s first hospital photo with a letter board? Or perhaps a name tag. We used this one and not only did it make for a great pic, it’s also a beautiful keepsake. This is especially important now that most hospitals do now have the baby portrait service due to the pandemic. Taking your own photos can be fun and a great memory. Look on Pinterest for some ideas! 

*Pacifiers. I am not sure about other areas but where I love most hospitals do not provide pacifiers for moms. I always brought my own. Our favorites are these and these! I have found with both babies that they will have a Paci preference and you may need to try a few brands before they find one they like! 

*Onesies for the hospital stay and going home outfit. We basically just did a onesie for both! I brought a few incase of spit up or if they got dirty. I did 4 in total because they take up very little room. We didn’t use all of them. 

hospital bag essentials for c-section

A FEW EXTRA THINGS YOU WON’T WANT TO FORGET! 

*Your insurance card + any paperwork your doctor gives you to fill out before you get to the hospital.

*An extra bag to use to carry all of the stuff the hospital sends you home with. 

*Quarters and singles for vending machines and/or snacks for the room! The best thing I ever ate was a Nutrigrain bar and fruit after having my VBAC. Not because they were super tasty. But because I really wanted a snack! 

*Glasses or contacts if you wear them. 

AND THE THINGS I BROUGHT BUT NEVER USED…

*I packed a special bra for labor but I didn’t have time to change into it! When I got to the hospital I changed into a gown in triage so they could check my cervix. After that it was basically off to the races. It didn’t really matter honestly. The hospital gown was fine enough to labor in! Don’t waste money on a special/cute gown or bra. 

*With my first I also packed slippers but didn’t use them. You can ask for a pair of grippy socks at the hospital and just throw them out after! Less to pack and also just easier. 

*I also packed my own pillow and blanket with my first. I had used them then, but the second time I didn’t pack them and I was totally fine! I just asked the hospital for more pillows and an extra blanket and I was still cozy and comfortable.  

Here is my complete hospital bag essentials checklist!  I hope it helps you! Leave a comment and let me know something you packed that was super helpful! 

Hospital bag checklist

Meet Steph!

Hi! I'm a mama to two little girls, a wife to my husband Chris and a makeup artist by trade. We live in New York (born + raised!) pretty close to NYC! My hope is that you’ll find this blog a place of helpful information, positivity and fun ideas that enrich your life and bring you joy. You are welcome here! And I hope you feel comfortable enough to come as you are! Let’s celebrate that.

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